Date of Graduation

Spring 2014


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

Martha Finch


A ubiquitous aspect of Eastern Orthodox devotionalism is the inclusion of icon corners in the homes of adherents. This study draws on data from ethnographic interviews with members of the Theotokos Unexpected Joy Orthodox Church in Ash Grove, Missouri, in order to highlight how practitioners employ icons and other devotional items in their socio-religious lives. Focusing on the complex relationships formed among humans, celestial beings, and things, this thesis demonstrates the ways that icons function as forms of communication, players in social dramas, and identifiers for adopted ethnic identity. Church members' vibrant and dynamic relationships and practices convey salient ideas about the nature of vernacular religion, the formation of group and individual identities, the commodification of ancient Christian practices via new technologies, and the relationships among humans, divine figures, and holy objects.


American Eastern Orthodoxy, iconography, materiality, sensory cultures, domestic piety, vernacular religion, ethnicity, identity, communication, new technologies

Subject Categories



© Sarah Amy Riccardi

Campus Only